Michael Phelps Is Not Going to the Olympics, but His Wake Is

The girls’s 400 I.M. remaining on the first evening featured one other of Phelps’s mentees, Hali Flickinger, who didn’t want any of the powerful love he doled out to Kalisz. She was her personal worst adversary, she admitted, sabotaging her success with adverse self-talk. Flickinger moved to Tempe, Ariz., to practice with Phelps’s longtime coach, Bob Bowman, after the 2019 World Championships. She had earned a silver medal in the 200 butterfly that hung like a picket nickel round her neck due to the manner she misplaced the gold, by swimming a panicky race and getting handed in the remaining meters by Hungary’s Boglarka Kapas.

Flickinger stayed with Phelps, his spouse, Nicole, and their three small sons till her husband joined her from Georgia. Many afternoons after observe, she would maintain Phelps firm in the kitchen as he was getting ready dinner and speak about his racing mind-set.

“When I got to Arizona, there was a lot that I needed to figure out mentally,” Flickinger stated.

One dialog caught in her head. She requested Phelps what he considered when he stepped on the blocks. He instructed her he lived for the races as a result of they have been the reward for all his onerous work. The races have been the most enjoyable he had in swimming and the greater the stage, the higher his enjoyment. His embrace of the second, he stated, sprang from his pleasure to money out all the work he had banked.

His response flipped a change in Flickinger’s thoughts. She remembered considering her mind-set was the actual reverse. “I was scared of races,” she stated. “It had just been years of me thinking the wrong way and being worried about things I can’t control.”

As 2019 turned to 2020, Flickinger continued to have conversations with Phelps about course of and positivity. At the similar time, Phelps was listening to from Bowman about Flickinger’s capability for work. She did butterfly units and punishing I.M. exercises that boggled his thoughts. When he instructed her that he couldn’t conceive of a few of the issues she was managing to do in observe, Flickinger was incredulous.

“I’d walk away from those sets a lot of times disappointed, not realizing what I’d done,” stated Flickinger, who gained confidence by seeing herself as a performer by way of the eyes of her sport’s biggest champion.

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